Saturday, 26 February 2011

Maybe The Dulled Equilibrium of Lithium Wasn't So Bad

I took lithium for a long time. I took it regularly with notable exceptions. I finally had to be taken off lithium for medical reasons. It was then I noticed how dulling lithium had been. I was initially pleased to be off it. The theory was that Quetiapine and Carbamazepine would do a good enough job. If I look back, my life on lithium was much more stable and productive. I don't think that the new regime is doing a good job. My mood is anything but stable and I frequently suffered from general anxiety. I don't recall anxiety being a problem when I took Lithium.

I recently had a long period of something akin to hypomania. I would call it a mild hypomania, if any such thing exists. For all intents and purposes, it was hypomania. I talked about hoping to find some new "self". It was intoxicating to be productive and to think clearly. It is frustrating to think it was just a "mood swing".

I wrote well thought out blogs that declared I was not delusional. I think I was deluding myself. I have now "crashed" from the apparent hypomania. I am not sure how I feel. If I had to put a label on it, I would probably call it "depression". I would gladly take the equilibrium given by lithium. It enabled me to get on with my life.

I hope my thoughts help to express the contrasts of bipolar disorder and the frustrations that they cause. Writing a blog when I was in that pseudo hypomania was easy. I didn't have to think about it. Writing this blog has been really hard work.

What I really want is peace of mind. I want my mood to reflect reality and not be reliant on some chemical imbalance. I am curious to know what "normality" would be for me, but "Maybe The Dulled Equilibrium of Lithium Wasn't So Bad" .

Sunday, 13 February 2011

A new website

I have joined a new bipolar website. I am trying to support it and to help it get moving. Please check it out if you have time:


No More Mister Nice Guy !!

Actually, it's more Mister Nice Guy. For too much of my 61 years, I have settled for second best. I went with the expectations of friends and family. I am talking about my emotional life. The expectations for my "career life" were always high. I never achieved what I was capable of because of the underlying emotional whirlpool. I did okay. I had average school exam results, average degree and a very good but not exceptional career in IT. Things did improve when I moved out and worked in Saudi Arabia and California. I regret that I broke out quite late at the age of 32. I was always a late developer!! I think my first book details the story well.

At the grand old age of 61, I have finally got the message. I should ignore the naysayers and doubters. It is worse for someone with a mood disorder. Everyone, include Mental Health professionals, wants to turn you into a zombie with stronger and stronger medications. In the preface of "Bipolar in Order", Tim Wootton says:

"I look forward to the day when we all rise above the ignorance that keeps us in fear and denial of a better life"

The asylum is a thing of the past but sufferers are often left in the asylum of their own mind. Out of mind, but maybe not fully out of sight. This must be the biggest stigma of all. Everyone wants cancer survivors, stroke survivors and heart attack survivors to recover into a good life. Who wants a good quality of life for the mentally ill? We often have to settle for second best. Worse still, we actively seek the second best option and we have no ambition beyond benefits and medication.

I have drifted off a bit but I think it is important stuff. I see so many talented people wasted and on the "scrap heap" of life. I have a lot of good friends, mostly in cyberspace, I regret. I think most of them are understanding and want the best for me. They appreciate it when I feel genuinely better and they don't treat it as "another" mood swing. This is an appeal for people to act that way. Give your mentally ill friends and family a bit of leeway. Life can be tough enough without the pressure of appeasing others. Unhealthy mood swings need to be handled but leave room for some joy. I will not ditch friends who try to bring me down. I rarely if ever will drop friends. I may choose to spend more time with those with positive and encouraging attitudes.

I have made a lot of new friends this year. They have all know me only as a positive and upbeat person. This is good for me. I don't have to constantly explain myself, to explain my not working and to explain why I don't always follow through on commitments.

I try to be a nice guy. I am just saying that I have my limits.

Thanks for reading.


Friday, 11 February 2011

10 Most Misunderstood Mental Health Disorders

This is just a link and their blog doesn't necessarily reflect my views.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Call me a radical .... if you like....

I am really tired hearing about the inevitability of mood swings, mania in particular. Even Kay Redfield Jamison, an eminent expert in bipolar disorder, talks as though the madness is inevitable. Maybe I am out there with Tim Wootton, but I don't believe it. I suffered my first full-blown mania in 1982. Granted, my manias have never been as severe as other sufferers but the disruption was just as bad. I can honestly say that each subsequent mania has been less severe than the previous one. I don't just take it when the hypomania clutches me. I work on it and I have developed coping mechanisms.

I may have flown off on a doomed mission to work in Singapore in 1996. It wasn't the impulsive manic flight of fancy like in previous manias. It was fairly well planned and considered, but just a little crazy. It was more about the frustration in my life and career at the time. The manic edge gave me the ability to convince some poor person to employ me unseen. I never actually met the poor person because he was out of the office in my brief stay at Citibank's Singapore offices. I behaved inappropriately in Singapore before I started work and I really burnt out. I wasn't at all welcome in the office and I jumped ship back to Los Angeles. I blew a lot of money on fancy hotels but that was the extent of my mania. The crash came in a miserable depression back in England. This was after another abortive job (acquired and started in Sacramento), a spell with my mother in law, and a flight to England without warning. The depth of the later depression far exceeded the heights of the mania.

My few manic periods since 1996 have been very mild. They may have gone beyond hypomania, but only marginally. My hypomanias have been milder too. I shudder to say controlled but I felt that in 2009 as I wrote my first book. I can't claim to have conjured up the hypomania but I didn't fight it and it facilitated the writing process. I came down on the day of the books publication, two and a half months after starting writing. That was my last real period of hypomania. I have become adept at spotting the upward mood swings and I can stop them in their tracks. The only regret is that I sometimes stop genuine good feelings. I feel as though I am getting past this as I gain insight.

I have just had 5 weeks of feeling great, with the odd blip due to over tiredness. It had tinges of hypomanic behaviour but it never crossed the line. I don't delude myself and I would admit it if I was wrong. I might be deluding myself that I have found some sort of Nirvana, but I will take it for what it is. I feel somewhat normal for the first time in years, maybe forever! I have worked hard for these 5 weeks as I think earlier blog posts demonstrate. I have documented the journey and I don't think any of it could be considered "crazy". I get moments of feeling guilty for feeling so good. I worry about being in the company of others who can't accept the difference. I certainly hope the Clive of recent months and years is not the real deal. I have been all shades of depressed, hypomania, anxious, but rarely happy, cheerful, contented... Choose your own word. I could worry for England and now I don't know what to worry about. I don't know what I worried about. Everything changed over night and I can't help worrying that I might revert the same way. I hope I have worked hard enough to give me a fighting chance.

I have been reading Tim Wootton's book Bipolar in Order in the last week or so. It is based on his theory of the Bipolar Advantage. When I read that book, I thought he was crazy. I think he is crazy but he admits it and he is happy being crazy. That is his basic premise. It is not the mania, depression, hallucinations and psychosis, it is the way we treat it as being really undesirable, to be stopped at all costs with pharmacology and maybe ect. Tim lives with his mood swings and delusions. He gives lecture tours. He seems very happy, happier than most people I know.

I hope I haven't rambled on too much. It just had to come out. I hope it makes sense. I really hate to re-read blogs that came out so naturally (without thought). Funny how my vocabulary improves when I am like this, maybe even my spelling.

As usual comments are much appreciated.


Saturday, 5 February 2011

Being Up Nearly All Night -but not manic or deluding yourself!

I have not had so many manic episodes, considering my 28 years of bipolar disorder. I can probably count serious episodes on one hand. Fortunately, each one has got less severe as I hopefully gained insight. I think that insight is often not included as a tool for recovery.

One of the key results of a mania is the loss of sleep or at least you "survive" or "make do" with less sleep. I can remember being awake between midnight and 8am for weeks on end. It might be a little irritating when manic but I think you can survive quite happily. The main thing is to find enough distractions. I don't think the internet was around or as popular when I had my most severe episodes. It makes hypomania so much more bearable and it must do the same for mania. It depends whether you have a car and or funds, how much mischief you can get up to. The world can be you oyster. I still remember cruising the LA freeways at 4am and eating huge breakfasts at 24 hour diners. In a way that was the upside of being manic. It was easier in LA as long as you had the use of a car.

My situation now is not a problem of mania, not even hypomania, but the jury may be out on that. My recent behaviour might be considered "manic" by some people. The similarity to mania or hypomania is that I am awake very early, typically at 2am. It is much harder to handle the nights when you are relatively "sane". When you are just awake a lot, it becomes tedious in the extreme. What do you do every night in the quiet of you own home. Apart from the lack of transport, there are no 24 hour diners in Warwick. I am sure I could find somewhere open if I tried really hard. The fact that I have not left my apartment during the night in these past 4 weeks, tells me that I am not at all manic. There are such things as taxis if I ever got the serious munchies.

If I got too active in a mania, I would take power naps and wake refreshed in two hours. My recent naps are restless and not too refreshing. I find myself passing the time from 2am onwards best I can. The early temptation was to go at 100mph and burn out by early evening. I have realized the error of my ways and I am working hard to manage my time better. I also have had a problem "doing nothing" without getting very anxious. This has not helped. I am making ground and I am trying to take not of the coping list that I made. "Slow Down!", "Take Breaks" and "Quiet Time" stand out from the list. Time management and better pacing seem to be my key thoughts.

I like to write blogs like this. Blogs that express frustrations normally hidden from the sleeping world. I hope it helps to express the deep frustration, in the hope that non-sufferers will gain a little insight. Maybe they will say hi on facebook if they suffer a little insomnia?

Thanks for reading this. I hope you found it useful.

Withdrawal Symptoms... from computer

They say you don't realize how you rely on something until it is taken away. I didn't feel this intensely until my computer was taken away for repair. Actually it was still working, but overheating indicated it needed attention. It might just need a good clean, but I am not someone who likes to venture inside the computer case. (As it happened, it needed a new power supply)

On the first day without my computer, I was a basket case. I can't say I felt "bad". I just didn't want to be up and about. I spent the whole day under the duvet, with essential breaks and breaks to refuel. It was fortunate that I had made a large batch of melanzane parmigiana on the previous day.It made two very nice meals when re-heated. The breakfast that I had skipped became a supper. It was a surreal day.

It has brought home how I have become reliant on the computer for 99% of my human contact. I didn't realize how unhealthy this was until I lost use of the computer. I was looking a a few days without my computer. I was relieved when the repair guy said it might be ready the same day.

I know that I have to work on getting more human contact. I have become more and more isolated in my recent spell of general anxiety. Things have improved lately, but the urgency was never so clear to me.

I have only met a very small proportion of my online friends. Very few live locally and I rarely meet them in person. I need to find activities where I meet "real" people. I have to tear myself away from my beloved computer.

I have been going through a very unusual journey for these last four weeks, since waking one day from an anxious nightmare of sorts.

I was waking anywhere from midnight to 4 am. On most days, I would get up when I woke. I would turn on the computer almost immediately. My computer has been running until 9 or 10 pm most days for those four weeks. It might be a miracle that it hadn't overheated earlier. When it did overheat on Wednesday, it was very much a reality check.

The computer is so valuable when you are awake at anti-social hours. It is so good to find other people awake in chat rooms at any time of the day. More important, they are often fellow mental illness sufferers who truly understand.

It is interesting to write a blog on paper for a change. I think it is a new experience. I hope I have the patience to type it into blog space, when the the computer returns.